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More Missed Opportunities…Sigh!!

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

I haven’t said much over the past few weeks.  Why?  Because Bollyland hasn’t given me enough reason to say much anyway.  The past few weeks have seen the release of four big films – “I Hate Luv Storys“, “Raavan“, “Rajneeti” and “Kites“, in descending order of their day of release.  The lesser said about all of them, the better.  But then saying less wouldn’t be doing justice to my blog.  So I will try to be brief here.

Kites” was the most delayed.  I haven’t seen it myself.  The ones who have…they all had a hard time staying awake.  I haven’t slept peacefully for a few days.  I plan to rent the film soon.  I rest my case.

Rajneeti” was the biggest.  Haven’t seen this one either.  But being me, I have read a lot of reviews and feel that this retelling of the epic “Mahabharata” sounds more like a “Khandaani Dushmani” flick than one that takes you into the real dirty world of Indian politics.  If for nothing else, then I will watch it just to once again witness the mother of all Indian movies cliches at play — “One night stands always result in pregnancies”.  And they say that this one has not just one or two but three such miraculous instances!! 🙂
  
Mani Ratnam’sRaavan” was the most anticipated.  Mayank Shekhar of “The Hindustan Times” ended his review of the film by saying “We want our Mani back”.  Raja Sen of Rediff.Com called the film “Mani Ratnam Ki Aag”.  I would simply ask “And the point of the film was…????”  If you think about it, every other Bollywood film is some sort of a retelling  of the “Ramayana”.  The cops and Ajay Devgns ruin a drug delivery for the villian.  The villian aka Shakti Kapoors kidnap the cop’s wife/mom/sister/dad/uncle/kid/cousin/gardner.  The cop goes after the villian and comes out victorious in the end. Surprise!!  And if you want to add a “twist” to the tale, then you create a good hearted “Khalnayak” like Sunjay Dutt and even Jackie Shroff’s Madhuri Dixit develops a soft corner for this “Raavan” during captivity.  So once again then….what was the whole point of Mani Sir’s Raavan??  Someone?  Anyone?

Finally, “IHLS” was the freshest…or at least it was supposed to be that.  What we got instead was amateurish direction from a first-timer, a script without a story and nothing memorable to take back home after the film ended.  Well almost…because Vishal-Shekhar’s stellar soundtrack and Kavin Dave’s turn as the Wisecracking Friend were almost to die for.  In a film that was dead at heart otherwise.

Missed opportunities?  Ah…Plenty..If you look at the past few weeks.  More on the way?  You bet, given Bollyland’s track record.  But just don’t give up on hope.  Bolly surprises come more frequently these days…and that’s what helps me keep my faith!

Categories: Bollywood

The Return of True “Idiot Box” Entertainment

July 6, 2010 Leave a comment

There was a time when “soaps” used be not quite “soapy” but definitely “frothy” enough to keep your interest piqued….at least most of the times, if not all.  They weren’t telecast five days a week, but maybe once or twice a week, when one would really look forward to the next episode. Be it a “Hum Log“, a “Buniyaad“, a “Khandaan” or a “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi“…all of them used to be the topics of water-cooler discussion the morning after.  The creators defintely knew how to keep bringing the viewers back to the Idiot Box week after week after week.

That was then…and this is now!!

Most of us nowadays would cringe at the mere mention of the word “Desi Television”.  The only images the words bring are those of conniving “saas-bahus”, helpless “betis in the sasuraals”, loud and bashful good-for-nothing “thakurs and dads” and long never-ending sagas of the same basic plot — the only difference between each one being more nonsensical and unbearable twists and turns that the other.

Well, “Happy Days Are Here Again…”…at least for the past six months.  It was a time to rejoice.  Good entertainment was back on TV, and the creators were none other than…surprise surprise….Yash Raj Films!!  (So THIS is where all their “creative juices” are getting diverted to, given the mediocre stuff that they are churning out for the Big Screen.:-))  Yash Raj Films Television (YRF TV) recently concluded Season 1 (yup…they are calling this “Season One” aka US Television) of some of the most well-written, witty, poignant and smart TV shows on Sony TV that we have all seen in a long time.  And yes…they were all WEEKLY…one episode per week.

The wonderful “Rishta.Com” was about a group of friends/enterpreneurs running a “Shaadi.Com” type of company, making matches of apparently mismatched couples, while dealing with their own inner personal demons, in parallel.  All in a very well-crafted storyline with every episode leaving the viewers yearning for more.

Powder” brought back memories of the gritty thirteen episode TV series “Rajuben” that was produced by Anurag Kashyap and also shown on Sony TV last year.  This one was about a team of Narcotics Cops trying to capture a notorious (and yet humane) drugs ganglord.  The direction was raw, the script tight and the end product a helluva thriller.

Seven” was an X-Men wannabe, with an Indian Mythology background.  This one took time to grow on me, with some religious metaphors and scientific mumbo-jumbo mixed together….but what caught my attention was the way the pieces of the jigsaw were constructed.  This was a very deeply thought-of show, with some serious time spent on creating a plot that would have surely leave you scratching your heads…not in confusion, but in bewilderment and in awe.

And last but not the least was of course the smart and witty “Maahi Way” about the travails of an overweight, unmarried girl and her trials and tribulations.  Like all the other afore-mentioned shows, this was also something not seen before on Indian TV.  The Delhi backdrop was perfect and Maahi’s Punjabi family was as wacky as they can get.  This was probably the only show that will have no “Season Two”.  The final episode of the series was clapworthy and an absolute delight.  Ah, how I wish they could all tie up this well at the end!!

This is not to say that all these shows were flawless…nope, they weren’t.  They had their share of mistakes, an episode here and there that dragged or made less sense…but there was one common thread that tied them all together and still keep the proceedings lively at all times.  And that was the excellent acting by not just the lead actors but the supporting cast as well.  Never before on Indian TV have I seen such an eclectic yet consistent group of people who not only gave memorable performances in their “primary” shows, but even in their “secondary” roles.  Yup…you would occasionally see a cast member of “Seven” or “Maahi Way” pop up on an episode of “Rishta.Com” and vice-versa.  And credit goes to the entire gang of YRF TV.

I am not 100% positive which one of these shows will be returning for a Season Two run.  In fact, it is very possible that due to their lower TRP ratings, they may never return. (Sony TV had to push a couple of them to late night slots due to dismal viewership.)  And that would indeed be a shame!!  Here was a chance for the starved Desi audience, assaulted everyday by either the predictable run-of-the-mill daily soaps or by those unrealistic “Reality Shows”, to get truly entertained by something truly different.  Let’s not squander that chance away.  Let’s all get together and strive to turn the “Idiot Box” into the “Sensible Box” for once!!

Categories: Bollywood